Everybody wants Nyala.
Next morning, Yorimoto and Yuma march towards Nodens HQ with some armed soldiers. …Very slowly. Mio watches them from the sidelines, and she seems distraught. We, meanwhile, get a literal rude awakening from Nagamimi to join them in the War Room.
Julietta is understandably cautious about ISDF accepting their demand quite readily, but Yorimoto makes a point about the trade being fair, as both sides get new data out of it. Yuma gives the usual pleanstries about looking forward to working with me, and here I am already expecting a boss fight against him. Dialog choice: “Let’s work hard together!” and “Don’t get in my way.” – Going with the latter, if only because nobody is buying the pretense anyway.
Thus we come to an uncomfortable (though debatably necessary) alliance. Julietta has tinkered with the portals so that we can spawn in a different area, quite likely one of the areas Nyala has already taken. Dialog choice: “You’re amazing, Julietta!” vs “Can we please just go kill Nyala?” – No contest here; anything to get this over with and be away from all you crazy, crazy people.
But of course, we can’t really face Nyala yet; not without finding out how squishy we are, anyway. What we’ll be doing there is gathering info on “the Dragonslayer” – which, according to Yuma, is a super special sword made of Orichalcum that can turn a True Dragon False, used by the late King Utrello. Problem is… the sword may already be lost after the King failed against Nyala, to wich Julietta proposes that they’d just make another one! Ah~ technology – turning the wonder of “mythical dragon-killing sword” into a mundane output. Basically, where we’re going is a mining/smithing district, and the goal is to find some pure orichalcum. Well, that and a Lucier blacksmith to make the sword. That might be a daunting task, since survivors are unlikely in the now-infested zone, but knowing Nodens, they’d probably tell us to bring back a bone and clone one themselves anyway.
After ISDF people leave the room, Allie also mentions that Julietta was formerly part of the ISDF American branch before getting into a fight with a superior and subsequently booted. My hunch is… that superior was Akutsu.
At the Portal, before starting the mission, Yuma tells us that he’s honestly happy to be working with us in fighting the True Dragons. Hmmm… Go away, ambiguous rival. You will not fool me with your Bishie-ness.
Finally time for Lower Ward Cladeon and WOW, 16 Dragons waiting. Lovely. And full of floating rocks too. Yuma and Yorimoto just Mario their way forward, so Nagamimi “motivates” us to do the same. Not that there’s any change to the gameplay; just gotta press A at the jumping points.
A short distance in, I find YoriYuma in front of a Dragonsbane wall, guarded by a stationary Dragon. If you guessed that we have to beat it to clear up the wall, you get no cookies because it’s too obvious. We insist on fighting it instead of Yuma; he seems at least a little bit concerned, but Yorimoto the Hardass says he won’t be providing support if we take it on because “if they can’t do this, they can’t be helpful down the line”. Stingy. Good news, though: Exhaust gauge is available now!
After the fight, Yorimoto notices fresh footprints nearby – somebody’s alive in this Dragon den. Yuma is surprised, but explains that the entire cave system is an ore mine, which a skilled Lucier could take advantage of by making equipment to defend themselves. So we’ll be getting the ore and a blacksmith? Why, that sounds almost conveniently coincidental! Dialog choice: “Let’s save those people!” and “Do you mean the Dragonslayer?”
Just a few paces further, we come across a Dragon corpse with a spear stuck in the head – although most of the body is the head, so… The corpse also shows quite a bit of damage, which Yuma surmises as result of a well-trained group attack. A group which we’re bound to come across if we press on and potentially could take our presence the wrong way. Yorimoto asks for our opinion: “Let’s look for another way.” or “We must keep moving!” Hmmm… I wanna meet these people, so let’s keep moving!
Sure enough, the group attacks – Cladeon militia, led by a guy named Eigur. YoriYuma handles the small guys and leaves Eigur to us, so boss fight time~ He attacks twice each turn with a 2-hit attack, but he’s really not that hard because I have an Agent in my party – madstrife pretty much made sure he couldn’t land a hit anywhere but himself. Not that the following cutscene mentions anything about him getting his ass kicked. No, he “stands down” because his men are all beaten and disarmed. Yorimoto asks to be taken to the leader of his settlement; Eigur’s men object to being used as bargaining chips and request to die instead, but he reminds them that they’re gonna beat Nyala together! Yup, I think I see where this is going.
Actually, Yuma makes a good point that their will to beat Nyala is quite noticeably absent in those in the city, who have instead given up.
Anyway, we arrive at the village, which also seems to house a Star Crystal of its own. Eigur clearly doesn’t like us eyeing the thing. Chief Toglau, who is surprisingly not a bearded old man but a woman, seems to take us much better. Yuma makes it clear that we’re all here to beat Nyala, and Eigur makes fun of our combat ability. Dialog choice: “We’ll never know unless we try.” versus “And you can?” Oooh~ I know what I’m going with~
Yorimoto asks the Chief about the Dragonslayer. Turns out, the knowledge of the sword was passed down by “priestesses of the spirit world”, Emel and Aytel – the “Hypnos Sisters”, as Yorimoto calls them – through generations of the Cladeon village. I remember them from 7th Dragon 2020, but since I can’t read Japanese well, I knew very little about their backstory, so the explanation here is quite appreciated. The Dragonslayer itself is long gone, as suspected. Even Eigur’s father died in the failed assault, it seems. The village is supposed to hand the sword over to a “kind hero”, who would then become the “dragon hunter”; but neither of those exist right now, so… kind of a bummer. As for forging a new sword, they’re lacking materials, many of their blacksmiths have died, and on top of that, a High Dragon is in control of the forge area. Geez, these people just can’t catch a break.
But Eigur mentions something interesting: The Star Crystal is what’s been protecting them from weaker Dragons. And yet the Queen’s advisor has been pushing about destroying them. Hmmmmm…
Dialog choice: “Let’s take it back.” or “I’ll kill the High Dragon.” – Both mean pretty much the same, but I’ll go with the cooperative tone of the former. Gods forbid the village gets something to be hopeful about. Since they don’t have enough manpower to protect the villagers and mount an assault at the same time, it’s up to us anyway. Still, Eigur insists that we take some of their soldiers, amateurs they may be. ISDF has regulations on accepting recruits on the fly, but guess who don’t have those~~~
Oh, even better – we’re not just getting new Lucier members; we’re getting a party cap expansion! New appearances and classes available! Let’s take a look. We have: standard Bishie, sexy woman (whose 2nd style is seriously scary), tall guy and another why-am-I-even-surprised Loli. The new classes are Rune Knight and Fortuner. I have no idea how those work, so let’s create both classes.
Now that I have a second party, more mechanics are introduced. The game has been very much the same as 2020 so far, but now I’m in unfamiliar territory. But to keep things simple, the party not fighting in battle gets a guage filled gradually, and they can help out the frontline party with class-based skills based on how far the gauge is filled.
Right after the tutorial, a report comes in about monsters heading towards the village. Eigur leaves with his men to defend while we work on the forge area, to the north.
In the Destroyed Residential Area, Nagamimi butts in again when we try to save more people – we’re here to save the present, not important to be a hero here, blah blah blah. Of course, we know better.
As we approach the forge area, Yuma is struck by a sudden case of plot convenience – something about “side effects of the installation” or whatever. I mean, really – as if I wouldn’t end up fighting the thing myself anyway.
Mayhem is a pretty cool-looking Dragon – shark-like turquoise body with a whale’s physique, 3-fin tail, glowing coral antlers. I can totally imagine it in Monster Hunter. Not terribly difficult as a boss though, even when it’s oddly not weak to fire. Team-wide poison goop that hurts for 30 poison damage every turn, and Imperial Wrath that removes all debuffs I put on it. If I wanted to be strategic, I could have packed Venom Guards from HQ, but the game is easy enough so far.
Yuma returns from his plot-dictated indisposition, surprised that we took down a High Dragon by ourselves. He seems genuinely embarassed for the poor timing too. Dialog choice: “We’re teammates. It was nothing.” and “Are you sure you’re OK?” – You’re not bad, guy; have the former.
Eigur pops up too, because “the rocks were acting up” – apparently an ability the Lucier have that helps with smithing. He too feels genuinely bad for looking down on us earlier… and apologizes! Hey~ I’m liking the mood right now. For the first time, we’re not at odds with each other! Dialog choice: “You’re surprisingly honest” and “The real battle starts now.” – Screw that generic tough guy/gal line. I’m having a moment here! Funny thing is, he gets embarassed and goes all Tsundere when I actually choose the former.
So we all head back to the village, where a mysterious figure in cloak and mask is watching us, and then teleports away.
Now that we have the forge, forging the sword is… still a faraway goal. The only blacksmith active in the village is a kid named Cub. But now that we’re kinda buddy-buds, Eigur shares what he didn’t before: He knows where the sword is. The King left it with him before he died so that it can be handed to whoever’s gonna slay Nyala. But… he doesn’t have it. He left it with Consul Tallieri, who doesn’t believe in the Dragonslayer’s power, hasn’t listened to anybody since the King died, and is insistent that self-destructing along with Nyala is the only way. …How conveniently destructive?
If all of that wasn’t enough obstacles already, we still need an experienced blacksmith to draw out the sword’s power and transfer to the hero. And the sword apparently doesn’t work at full power if the holder doesn’t have a desire to protect just as strong as the blacksmith’s – which might be what happened with the King. Gee, do you think he lost the motivation because of someone?
Oh, did you think that’s all the criteria? Fuck you~ there’s more: We need someone from the Royal Family because they’re the one who can hear the voice of Orichalcum. Eh, I’m sure we can find one in the city. You know, like the Queen? I sure hope she doesn’t have somebody nearby constantly dissuading her from abandoning the destruction plan though~
So our next step is to talk to the Queen; not that we have other options. We’ll have to go through the Consul, so… fingers very much crossed. Eigur thanks me again for bringing hope and inspiration to him before he gives up fighting, and says that I might be the one to hold the sword. Even Nagamimi gives us some praise for handling a High Dragon. Not gonna lie – so many good things happening on this day at once. Although I’d pass on Julietta’s “big sloppy kiss”. But wait – Yuma wants to talk to me at the terrace?
Oooh~ sunset. Is he gonna put on his moves~? No, but apparently, he’s an artificial life-form created by ISDF purely to fight Dragons. …Some people start with a “Hello”, but okay, he certainly has my attention now. Despite how he looks, he’s only been “active” for twelve years now. …Which actually makes Allie’s cougar tendencies towards him more than a wee bit creepy.
In any case, the essence of his talk is that he’s fine with his purpose, but at the same time, seeing us becoming better so quickly is making him feel like he’s losing at his literal sole purpose in life, and that’s stirring up his emtions. Which is why he wants us to not assist him and let him work by himself down the line. That’s… heavy stuff, particularly because it’s pretty clear that he’s not saying all this from malice.
Dialog choice: “I won’t abandon you.” and “Aren’t you overthinking this?” – Hmm… On one hand, I know he takes his role seriously, but on the other hand, he’s too emotional right now. I’m going with the former. He actually seems pretty surprised by my response, since he feels that the things he just said to me earlier were rude. He leaves without a clear emotional closure, but it’s pretty safe to say I now have a Tsundere rival. That’s, what, the second Tsundere I’ve gotten today? Is it all the Dragon juices on my body?
Our day isn’t over yet though: Mio is making a ruckus at the reception, so gotta go take care of that too. She’s decided to become a navigator just for us, and wants to see Allie to make it official. She has another reason: Looking for her dad. She remembers him talking about Nodens when she was a kid, so she hopes to get some leads while working here. We apparently suggested something slightly “out of line” to her, and she leaves with the idea.
NOW our day can finally end.
Back at ISDF, Akutsu is mandating that the specimens of Iod and Mayhem be “D-Installed” into Yuma for the battle against Nyala. Yorimoto strongly objects after Yuma’s earlier blackout caused by strain from the Fomalhaut installation. If Akutsu was unlikable before, this scene pretty much makes him out to be a bad guy: He wants Yuma to be as powerful as possible so that they can have unrivaled “power” against the 7th Dragon, as well as produce stronger generations of Yuma units. He also threatens to “permanently replace” Yuma if he malfunctions once more. And no, repeatedly using the word “power” is somehow not helping him look benevolent.
Yuma is… totally on board with this decision?? Well, okay, he might not care about Akutsu’s rationale, but he definitely wants to get stronger regardless. Worried about him, Yorimoto decides to stay and help with the installation.